July 25, 2006


Democrats' Plan Focuses on Middle Class: Sen. Clinton Presents Domestic Agenda Featuring Tax Breaks and Tuition Help (Dan Balz, 7/25/06, Washington Post)

The American Dream Initiative includes proposals that DLC President Bruce Reed said would cost $450 billion to $500 billion over 10 years. He said the cost could be offset by eliminating corporate subsidies in the tax code, cutting out 100,000 unnecessary federal contractors and making a more aggressive effort to identify and collect taxes now going uncollected by the Internal Revenue Service. The initiative also calls for a return to pay-as-you-go budget rules in Washington, which means that all spending on new programs must be offset by cuts elsewhere.

The centerpiece proposal would provide additional support for college costs, with the goal of increasing the number of college graduates by 1 million a year by 2015. The proposal includes $150 billion in block grants for states to ease rising tuition costs and a consolidated tax credit for students. To qualify, states and universities would have to limit tuition increases to the rate of inflation.

Other ideas include requirements for employers to establish retirement accounts for all workers and a refundable tax credit for savers; "baby bonds" that would create a government-funded savings account of $500 for every child born in the United States; a refundable tax credit to help provide the down payment on housing; universal health care for children; and benefits for small businesses to lower the cost of providing health insurance to workers.

The DLC often has put itself at odds with the party's liberal wing, but the new agenda was designed to create a unified message for the Democrats, although congressional leaders also have put forth a party agenda. The DLC document bears the imprint of several other progressive organizations, and DLC founder Al From said he believed that it represented "a set of ideas around which Democrats of all stripes can rally as we head into the fall election."

A generally sensible direction made needlessly complex by their terror of being associated with bigger ideas. They could achieve all their ends by simply advocating: private accounts in Social Security to which workers would be entitled to add the money that now goes into 401k's (and invest in higher risk funds); making HSA's mandatory and universal and funding them for the poor and unemployed; and Paul O'Neill's plan for investment accounts that start at birth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 25, 2006 10:54 AM

This is so amusing. Republicans used to claim that they tax and spend, just not as much as much as Democrats. Now Democrats want to claim that they cut taxes and allow people more options, just not as much as Republicans.

Will they get away with it? We'll see how the blogosphere receives Sen. Clinton's brave new initiative.

Posted by: erp at July 25, 2006 11:22 AM

Can someone please tell me what defines middle-class for the Dems? I keep hearing about all this help for whatever they think is middle-class and I get the feeling it really means anyone who does not need a government hand out.

Posted by: BJW at July 25, 2006 2:04 PM

"They could achieve all their ends by simply advocating..."

But their true end isn't to empower people. Notice what is common to all these programs that she is proposing--the governmnet taking money from people and then distributing it out to people. As long as the recipients do exactly as they are told.

Posted by: fred at July 25, 2006 3:00 PM

And it's not enough money to make any difference in people's lives or change their behavior. Medved is on the radio slamming Hillary's plan right now, but I wish he'd discuss the O'Neill plan as a counter proposal.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 25, 2006 4:05 PM

But for their love of government run health care, the Clintons of the world would support tax relief for Health Savings Accounts. I just got mine through healthia.com and it is fantastic. I can choose any doctor. I can pick any proceedure. And it SAVES money. HSAs are the wave of the future, if the government gets out of the way

Posted by: Brian at July 25, 2006 8:41 PM

brian, can those over 65 also enroll in HSA's?

Posted by: erp at July 26, 2006 12:09 PM